A Little Outing

A quick trip to the Marches last week to visit a couple of folk and the Malvern Show. I’m not going to mention any of my normal Show gripes, but concentrate on the positive. The nice thing about the trip was the strong sense of what Common Ground would call “local distinctiveness”. It’s part of the world that hasn’t sold its soul.

I got off to a good start by visiting Jenny Steel in Shropshire to have a catch up over a coffee, and thence to Plant Wild, outside Leominster. Plant Wild is the brainchild of Keith Arrowsmith and Suzanne Noble, who are growing and harvesting native plants and seeds. Keith, like me, is a refugee from an altogether different world. Fingers crossed we might work together and we can sell their locally harvested meadow seed mixtures.

Overnighted at the Three Horseshoes in Little Cowarne. The Good Pub Guide rarely lets me down, and I’m always amazed with the quality and value our best independent pubs provide. Local produce – food and drink – the watchword. Lovely Wye Valley Bitter and fantastic draft cider from Oliver’s, which as it turns out is just down the road. And some bloke came in and bought a round of a Becks and three Carlsbergs. Sigh.

Set off for the Malvern Show with some trepidation on Saturday – my thoughts on Gardening Shows are well documented, so I won’t go over them again. Gorgeous day though, and had a lovely time. Spent most of my time in and around the “Good Life” tent to avoid the tat. Met up with Ian Roger, my main fruit tree supplier, whose amazing display of traditional apple varieties won him a Gold medal. He was even more chuffed by the response from the punters to his stand. More Perry and Cider tasting, of course; particularly liked Severn Cider’s Perry and Cider – good luck to you.

This Bloke Walked into a Pub with a Szechuan Pepper...
Bravura performances by Mark Diacono and that Joe Swift (he should be on TV), and John Wright. Mark and John were promoting their new books, which are rather good. EVERYONE with an interest in food and the countryside should read them. God knows, we all need a bit of inspiration at the moment. I wonder if social historians of the future will talk about a River Cottage movement and its impact on food. And what nice people, too. Talking of which, there were various bloggers about, including Veg Plotting and the Patient Gardener, who it was nice to see – albeit briefly. I wish I could have stayed longer for a proper chat.

Heavy HorseTo cap a fine day – and before I got lost in the ludicrously unsigned carpark – I was asked to sell Perry Pear trees at the show next year. Delighted to, especially if it means another stay in Little Cowarne. I wonder if I could sell some local seed for Keith and Suzanne too. Oh – and I almost forgot – here’s a heavy horse photo for my mum.






Malvern Autumn Show

Perry Pears
Perry Pears
Off to the RHS Autumn show at Malvern yesterday, which offered the usual mix of good and bad. Let’s get the bad out of the way…
if I see another Heuchera/Crocosmia/Pansy I think I’ll garrote myself. I don’t want to sound like a gardening fascist, but honestly – and the most hopeless plants for wildlife gardening, which was a notably absent theme in favour of plastic Box balls and double glazing. COME ON, RHS ! On the plus side, some gorgeous stuff from Cotswold Craftsmen by way of non-plant things. I’ve added the Orchard Centre and Hartpury Perry Park to my links, and had a nice chat to the folk from the Colwall Village Garden, which sounds like an excellent project. I also found some nice nurseries.
Hoyland Plant Centre has the National Collections of Agapanthus and Tulbaghia. Irresistible. I loved the Hardy’s Nursery stall, a plantsman’s delight I had been advised to look out for. I was particularly pleased to run into the folk at Trecanna Nursery too. I bought native Alliums, Wood Anemones, and Spring flowering Cyclamen coum from them. It would be great to have some more bulbs on our site and they’re just the sort of people I’d love to work with. More anon…